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					The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

www.cosla.gov.uk


Public Consultation Review of the European Union Sustainable Development Strategy




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INTRODUCTION

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) welcomes the opportunity to comment on
the European Union’s Sustainable Development Strategy.

Local authorities in Scotland continue to be heavily involved delivering sustainable development
through enhancing local well-being and the statutory duties associated with Best Value and
Community Planning. As the representatives body for local authorities in Scotland, we are
therefore keen to be involved in the positive debate on how sustainable development can be
practically managed and delivered in the EU.

The aims and objectives of sustainable development, in Scotland, the UK and Europe, will only be
achieved by the collective effort of government, business and communities. Consequently, we are
pleased to support the refreshing of this strategy, and look forward to working with our partners
towards its implementation.

SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS

The following are the key points about sustainable development that we would like to emphasise:

   Sustainable Development cannot be an add on to policy, but must be integrated across all EU
    policy and legislation. The strategy must inform all future initiatives, and there must be clear
    view of how new and existing European policies contribute to the main sustainable
    development objectives;

   There is a need for coordination between European, National, regional and local sustainable
    development strategies, but the lowest appropriate level of government must take decisions on
    sustainable development issues;

   Local Government in Scotland is already improving community welfare through Best value,
    Community Planning and the Power of Well Being. The statutory duty associated with Best
    Value also requires local authorities to work towards sustainable development. All three of
    these processes were developed in partnership between COSLA and the Devolved
    Government in Scotland, the Scottish Executive, and we believe that they have potential to
    deliver positive change. We would therefore want all strategies, whether National or European,
    to build on what Scotland has already achieved;

   It is the responsibility of all levels of Government to demonstrate the benefits that sustainable
    development can have on people‟s quality of life. If people are aware of how their lives can
    change for the better, then they will be more likely to make lifestyle changes that contribute
    positively to the strategy‟s six priorities;

   The big international issues such as climate change must be tackled urgently. The EU strategy
    must coordinate action at the largest scale, while allowing National, Regional and Local
    Government to deliver flexibly on sustainable development. A “one size fits all policy” will not
    work for Europe; and




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   Over the next 15 to 20 years the EU must set the global standard for integrated action on all
    the key sustainable development issues. The EU must lead by example and help Member
    States put in place practical and deliverable polices that can achieve real economic,
    environmental and social benefits.

In answering the following questions we concentrated on those areas that are of most relevance to
Scottish Local Government. COSLA is happy to provide any additional information that may be
required, and we are ready to assist at every stage of this review process.

OVERALL EU APPROACH

Q1. Do you agree with the EU’s overall approach to sustainable development as described
above?

Q2. If yes, say why. If no, please explain how the overall approach (as opposed to individual
elements of the strategy) could be improved.

Q3. Do you think the sustainable development strategy and the Lisbon strategy
complement each other in a satisfactory manner?

Q4. If yes, say why. If no, say why not.

The approach and content of the EU strategy is to be welcomed, if it builds upon the work that is
already being carried out by Member States, and is more than an „add on‟ to EU policy. Its
success at creating a common European vision will be determined by how well existing and future
policy contributes to the aims and objectives of sustainable development. It is clear that
sustainable development is a cross cutting issue that cannot be tackled by a single stand-alone
strategy or policy.

A truly integrated approach to sustainable development should not require a detailed strategy, but
must set out the steps and actions that the EU must take, across all policy areas, to meet the
quality of live and sustainable development objectives prioritised. The EU strategy must focus on
coordinating effort on the broad, continent wide challenges that face Europe, and leave delivery on
sustainable development to National, Regional and Local Government. Never has the phrase “Act
locally, think globally” been more apt.

Sustainable development is a long-term process, so any strategy must focus on balancing
environmental, social and economic priorities over a 15 to 20 years period. The UK Government
aims to produce a strategic framework for sustainable development to 2020, so we believe that the
EU should aim for at least a 15-year strategy.

To be successful in delivering on sustainable development there must make links between
European wide objectives, and those priorities of nations and regions. For this to happen the
European strategy must aim, as far as practical, to be coterminous with the strategies of individual
nations. Although European priorities may differ from those of member states or their regions,
there will be some over lap, particularly on international issues such as climate change.

Although there should be some two-way communication vertically from local strategies to the
broad European approach, it is even more important that sustainable development extends across
EU policy. All European policies should contribute to sustainable development in some way,
balancing competing priories as far as possible. However, for sustainable development to be
anything more than empty rhetoric the shorter term goals of the existing EU polices, such as the
Lisbon strategy, must be deliverable and must provide the ground work for longer term
achievements.
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SIX PRIORITY AREAS

COSLA believes that overall the six priority areas defined in the consultation reflect well the
biggest challenges facing Europe. Although the importance attached to each of these priorities by
Member States will vary, it is impossible to dispute the fact that each of the priority areas is crucial
to every European.

Climate Change

Q5. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its climate change objectives?

Q6. If no, explain why. Do you think the objectives need to be updated?

Q7. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are there
other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q8. In tackling climate change, how can the EU best combine directly promoting particular
technologies and giving price signals to market actors, leaving it to them to develop
technological solutions?

Q9. What role do non-EU countries have in addressing climate change and what can the EU
do to encourage or assist them?

Q10. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long-
term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address climate change and
actions in other domains?

Climate change is the pre-eminent threat to the environment today, and it will have a major impact
upon European social and economic well being. It is therefore vital that climate change and the
EU‟s approach to energy production and consumption are reviewed to ensure that everything
possible is being done to mitigate climate change, and adapt to its unavoidable impact. With
atmospheric CO2 rising at an increasing rate, it is obvious that more must be done, and
satisfactory progress in not good enough.

The EU has a good record of tackling climate change, and we believe they should be praised for
their efforts, but the extent of the problem demands further action and Europe must build on
progress to date. This issue alone should be sufficient to galvanise the EU to integrate sustainable
development across all polices and strategies. It is obvious that urgent action on the ground is
required by Member State, but the EU must make certain that all its policies and actions contribute
in a positive way toward climate change mitigation and adaptation.

In addition to the above, Europe and Member States must do more to encourage individuals to
take, as part of their daily lives, small, practical steps towards reducing energy inefficiency.
Governments can provide information and help an individual to change aspects of their lifestyle,
but action still requires a personal stake to be made in the change process. Experience suggests
that this will not be easy and work must be done at all levels to help achieve this.

The EU must continue to work with the International Community, and build a broad consensus for
tackling this all-important issue. Europe cannot succeed on her own, but the EU can act as the
standard bearer, and be an example for other Nations to follow.


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Public Health

Q11. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its objectives in the field of public health and food safety?

Q12. If no, explain why? Do you think the objectives need to be updated?

Q13. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are there
other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q14. Should public health threats in non-EU countries be reflected in EU policies? If so,
how? How should non-EU countries be encouraged to reflect health threats in their
policies?

Q15. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long-
term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address public health threats
and actions in other domains?

We would suggest that public health objectives need to be updated to take account of the
development of a new EU Health Strategy as presented in the „Enabling Good Health for all‟ paper
published in July 2004. Concern about food safety clearly form part of the required response but
additional measures need to be identified as part of the sustainable development strategy.

Health requires to be mainstreamed into all EU policy making with a particular emphasis on the
promotion of good health. The European Commission has already committed itself to integrating
health into the Lisbon agenda as a driver of sustainable development. Therefore the Public Health
section of this document should cut across all other sections.

As part of an approach that focuses on promotion of good health, the public health measures need
to address behavioral, social and environmental factors that determine health. In the context of
the sustainable development strategy there are clear links to policy areas such as environment,
regeneration, transport and poverty.

Our recommendation is that the public health objectives should cover the full range of lifestyle and
life circumstance factors that are determinants of health and follow from the EU Health Strategy.

Poverty and Social Inclusion

Q16. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its policy objectives in the field of poverty, employment, education and
social exclusion?

Q17. If no, explain why. Do you think the objectives need to be updated?

Q18. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are there
other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q19. Do EU policies help address the international dimension of the issue? How do non-EU
country policies help or hinder solving the issue in the EU or globally?

Q20. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long


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term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address poverty and social
exclusion and actions in other domains?

Sustainable Development should provide the context for tackling all social, environmental and
economic issues. If any of the three components are considered in isolation then the chance of
building a single, well-structured argument or case for change is lost. As we stated in our response
to the UK sustainable development strategy, it is important to emphasise additional benefits that
environmental policies and legislation can have for local communities. Whether it supporting local
biodiversity and habits; improving local access to the countryside or enhancing degraded
landscape, communities can experience healthier living conditions, increased opportunities for
physical activity and a renewed sense of local pride. Consequently, we firmly believe that tackling
social, economic and environmental inequalities in Europe must be a key priority and can only
benefit the other five priority areas.

This priority is similar to the UK‟s aim of helping communities to help themselves. One of the key
ways of helping communities gain greater control over their lives is to boost access to education.
For example, children are able to exert a powerful influence on their parents, so initiatives to boost
awareness of social, economic and environmental issues, not only help in the long term, but also
have an immediate impact on the whole family. Education is important but should not stop at the
school. Life long learning opportunities and access to further education all play their part in
helping to reduce inequalities.

In tackling this problem Europe must also attempt to move away from traditional measures of
wealth, such as GDP, and use indicators that measure social and environmental well being, as
well as economic success. Quality of life indictors are included with the UK Government and
devolved Scottish approaches to sustainable development.

Ageing Society

Q21. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its objectives in facing the challenges of an ageing society?

Q22. If no, explain why. Do you think the objectives need to be updated?

Q23. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are
there other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q24. According to you, what would be the three most promising approaches to ensure the
financial sustainability of our pension systems (e.g. raise the participation rate and/or
retirement age, phase in retirement, adjust annual pay-outs, broaden the 'tax base' beyond
labour income, supplement by (private) fully funded systems etc.)? Please rank in
descending order of importance.

Q25. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long-
term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address the challenges of an
ageing society and actions in other domains?

Q26. What could be the role of immigration in alleviating the impacts of ageing societies in
Europe? What impacts might this have in developing countries? How can any potential
conflicts best be balanced?

A society that is living longer and having fewer children presents unique social, economic and
environmental challenge. It is therefore important that Europe debates the issues of an ageing
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population within the context of sustainable development, so as to maximise the quality of life of
Europe‟s older people. COSLA therefore supports the objectives as set out in the 2001 strategy,
but would add the following comments:

   An older, but fit and healthy population can remain active economically and socially. With
    people living longer a new „grey market‟ will be opened that will offer unique economic
    opportunities, especially if social inclusion and transport issues have been also been tackled
    effectively;

   A physically and mentally healthy older population may wish to work past the traditional
    retirement age to finance a good quality of life. We back efforts to remove „disincentives to
    work longer‟, but would also suggest offering retraining and education opportunities for those
    people who may wish to change job;

   Although people may be happy to work longer, they may not wish to continue to work in a
    pressurised environment. Older people may wish do something very different from their past
    careers, and could be attracted to part time work or job sharing.

   An older population does not necessarily indicate an unhealthy population. Health care will
    need to adapt, but should focus on preventative measures. A high quality health service
    offering care in the community and at home, will reduce the need for hospital stays, and keep
    beds free for acute medical problems;

   Health care will have to become more efficient, and as technology advances costs for routine
    treatments should be reduced. However, older people must have the same access to high
    quality medical care as younger patients. Preventative measures and healthy life style advice
    (e.g. Stopping smoking) must be offered regardless of age;

   Transport is another key issue that is discussed further under Mobility and Transport.
    Accessible and affordable transport must be made available to older people whether they live
    in towns or rural areas. We believe that the economic and social benefits of a mobile older
    population must be stressed. Good transport links will also help family and friends care for
    elderly people, reducing the need for residential care.

   For older people to remain independent and in their own homes, builders and planners will
    need to adapt designs for future housing to reflect the practical needs of an older person.

Management of Natural Resources

Q27. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its objectives in the management of natural resources?

Q28. If no, explain why. Do you think the objectives need to be updated?
Q29. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are
there other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q30. Is the international dimension of the management of natural resources well taken into
account in EU policies? How do non-EU country policies help or hinder achieving the EU
objectives?

Q31. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long-
term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address unsustainable use of
natural resources and actions in other domains?
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The management of natural resources is a huge issue that cuts to the heart of sustainable
development. We agree with the EU objectives, and would encourage continued support for all of
the following:

   Recycling and reduction in the quantity waste sent to land fill;
   Energy efficiency and conservation;
   Use of renewable forms for energy for electricity, transport and heating;
   Promoting sustainable procurement in public and private sectors;
   Water quality, efficiency and impact of global warming on supply;
   Preserving and enhancing biodiversity; and
   Sustainable agriculture and fisheries.

It is important that all EU policy and legislation acts to reduce the inefficient use of finite
resources. Europe and Member States must ensure that their polices do not encourage, even in
an inadvertent way, a „throw away culture‟ that is driven purely by the cost. The European strategy
should also seek to reduce the exploitation of unsustainable foreign products or resources, both
by Member States and countries outside the Union. It is in Europe‟s interest to promote
sustainable resource management outside the EU, and to provide assistance as necessary, so
countries are able to help themselves.

Mobility and Transport

Q32. Do you agree that the EU has made satisfactory progress over the past three years
towards meeting its objectives related to transport and mobility?

Q33. If no, explain why. Do you think the objectives need to be updated?

Q34. Have the right measures been identified? Have they been well implemented? Are
there other actions that should be taken during the next five years?

Q35. Is the international dimension of the issue well covered in EU policies? Is there an
international dimension to EU policies to reduce the environmental impacts of transport?
How do non-EU policies help or hinder achieving the EU objectives?

Q36. Have the actions taken achieved a satisfactory balance between the economic,
environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development? What short and long-
term trade-offs or synergies do you see between actions to address unsustainable
transport trends and actions in other domains?

The problem of urban congestion is well known and need to be tackled. We therefore believe that
the objectives to reduce road traffic and the pollution it creates are to be welcomed. However, a
sustainable transport policy must also tackle poor communication links in rural areas. If the
sustainable development strategy is to relieve poverty and reduce inequalities, then transport links
within remote and rural areas of the EU must be improved. It should also be a priority to enhance
transport links between areas of high economic growth and rural parts of the EU, especially those
rural areas that are suffering depopulation and economic stagnation. The rural transport issue will
need to be urgently addressed in light of the expanded Union.




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CHANGING THE WAY WE MAKE POLICY

Improving Policy Coherence

Q41. How well do you consider the various Community policies contribute to sustainable
development? How could their contribution be improved?

Q42. Do you agree that the Commission’s approach of using Impact Assessments to
increase policy coherence has been appropriate?

Q43. If yes, explain why. If no, explain why not.

Q44. Do you have any suggestions for improving or complementing this approach?

Q45. Are there areas in which you think this approach is not being applied / implemented
sufficiently?

The best results will be achieved by linking existing work on sustainable development, and by
creating an overall framework that all EU policies and legislation must integrate with. COSLA
believes it is vital that we avoid an ad hoc approach to sustainable development, where projects,
policies and funding duplicate effort, cause confusion and offer no coherent direction. It must be
clear to everyone, at the European, national, regional and local level, how their actions contribute
towards sustainable development.

LINKING THE EU STRATEGY TO GLOBAL AND NATIONAL STRATEGIES

National Dimension

Q61. Do you think that the recent enlargement of the European Union has created new
challenges for sustainable development that need to be taken into account?

Q62. If yes, which ones?

Q63 Is there a need to ensure stronger co-ordination between sustainable development
strategies at different levels (e.g. local, regional, national, EU, international)?

Q64. If so, do you have any suggestions as to how this could be achieved?

The Scottish Executive will produce a sustainable development strategy for Scotland, which will be
part of the UK framework. This framework will also include strategies for Wales, Northern Ireland
and non-devolved and English only matters. The framework and the component devolved
strategies are collectively known as the UK Sustainable Development Strategy.

In our consultation response to the UK strategy we emphasised that sustainable development is
best delivered at local level by promoting and utilising existing delivery mechanisms, for example
Best Value and Community Planning in Scotland. We also indicated that the future success of the
Scottish Executive and the UK Government strategies depends on connecting future polices and
legislation with local government delivery of sustainable development. We stated that the impact of
central government legislation on local sustainable development delivery has to be clear and
structured. An ad hoc approach is not constructive, and can lead to duplication and confusion.

We believe that all these comments apply equally to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy.
There is a need for stronger co-ordination across Europe especially on the „big issues‟ such as
climate change, but sustainability is also about increasing peoples quality of life in a considered
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and balanced way, and this can be best achieved at the local level, by the communities
democratically elected representatives.

As a result, COSLA believes that the refreshed strategy must allow the lowest appropriate level of
government to take decisions on sustainable development issues, and to continue to use existing
delivery mechanisms e.g. Best value, Community Planning and the Power of Well Being in
Scotland.

CONCLUSION

Sustainable Development is not one policy or strategy, but a network of inter-connected polices
that together tackle economic, environmental and social priorities. Only by placing sustainable
development at the heart of EU policy will the six priorities set out in this consultation be tackled
successfully.

The EU must coordinate action on a Europe wide scale, while allowing its Member States to deal
with their own priorities in their own individual ways. For Europe “a one size fits all policy” will not
work. The EU must also continue to work with its International Partners to tackle global challenges
such as climate change, poverty and health.

Only be working in partnership, locally, regionally, nationally, in Europe and the wider world will the
sustainable development priorities discussed in this submission be successfully dealt with.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Robert Nicol                        James Fowlie
Policy Officer                      Policy Manager
robertn@cosla.gov.uk                james@cosla.gov.uk
+44 (0)131 474 9241                 +44 (0)131 474 9263

19 October 2004




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